Indian spared caning in Little India riotsfor showing remorse

An Indian in Singapore was spared caning but jailed for 25 months for his involvement in Little India riots, the country's worst violence in 40 years, as he had a clean record and showed genuine remorse for his actions.

Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun responded to an appeal by a public prosecutor who asked the High Court to impose three stroke of cane on Samiyappan Sellathurai, who was jailed last month for his role in the riot on the night of December 8.

"Each case must be decided on its own facts, and the sentence meted out must fit the punishment for the crime," Sun was quoted as saying by the Straits Times.

Samiyappan, who has worked in Singapore for 16 years with a clean record, showed genuine remorse for his involvement in the riot, noted the Judge.

Responding to the prosecution argument that three of the five convicted for rioting had received three strokes of the cane each in addition to jail term, Sun said.

"Those who received caning committed acts that were far more heinous and egregious such as causing damage to the public vehicles," he said.

He also pointed out that it was not sufficient grounds to have Samiyappan caned despite the fact he had instigated those around him to throw projectiles at policy vehicles.
He noted that he had left the scene before the flipping or torching of vehicles.

Defence lawyer Rajan Supramaniam also argued that Samiyappan did not show the same "brutal violence" as some of the other offenders convicted for rioting.

It is a first appeal by the public prosecutor in a case involving the rioters in the Little India, a precinct of Indian origins businesses, pubs, eateries, motels and hotels.
The riot was sparked by a fatal accident involving a bus and an Indian national who was working in Singapore.

Some 400 migrant workers were at the scene of the riot during which 23 emergency vehicles were damaged and 54 police officers injured. Fifty-two Indians were deported from Singapore for their alleged involvement in the riots.

Twenty-five Indian nationals, working in Singapore on permits, were charged for rioting.

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